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This is for the 2008 film version of The Spirit; for the comic series, see here.
In Central City, rookie cop Denny Colt returns from the dead as a private detective, known only as "The Spirit," to fight crime. After he finds his nemesis, The Octopus, in a mud hole, Sand Saref uncovers two chests in water nearby. She tries to flee with both chests, but the Octopus shoots at her, snapping the line that connects the chests together. After a fight with The Spirit, The Octopus takes the remaining chest and escapes with one of his thugs.
The Octopus wanted the mystical Blood of Heracles to become immortal and Sand wanted the Golden Fleece of the Argonauts, but both ended up with the wrong one. The Spirit must track down and stop The Octopus before he trades chests with Sand, becoming immortal.
- Actor Allusion: Samuel L. Jackson's character just can't shut up about how much he loves eggs.
- When Jackson opens the chest, it glows much like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction.
- Adaptation Distillation: According to some.
- Affectionate Parody:
- Of comic books. (Though more of deliberately decadent, exploitive action comics than of the medium in general.)
- Self-Parody: Frank Miller claims this was his intention.
- And This Is For:
- Sand, Me and Muffin!!!
- Then, Sand again.
- Ax Crazy: This does not even begin to describe The Octopus.
- Back From the Dead: The Spirit came back from the dead a few days after being injected with the concoction that gave him his Healing Factor.
- Berserk Button:
- Octopus just loves his eggs...except for when they're thrown at his face. They never are in the film, but he considers any embarrassment or failure (as well as most attacks on his face) akin to one. And doesn't take kindly them.
- Never hurt a cat in front of The Spirit.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: At one point the Spirit looks directly at the audience and explains who Plaster of Paris is.
- Cargo Ship:
- In-Universe, The Spirit loves his Central City, he REALLY LOVES it.
My city, I cannot deny her. My city screams. She is my mother. She is my lover, and I am her Spirit.
- He's also very attached to his hat (who he repeatedly calls "Buddy") and his red tie.
- Cheek Copy:
- The Spirit's preferred method of locating Sand. And it works.
- The bellboy was a dwarf...
- Chick Magnet: So much so that it may as well be considered a superpower.
- City Noir: Central City.
- Cloning Blues: The Octopus' Henchmen are all (extremely expendable) clones. So expendable in fact that, at one point, the only reason The Octopus doesn't kill some is because "they're running out."
- Cloudcuckoolander: Plaster of Paris.
- Cute Kitten: Sort of. The kitten is killed off right away...and the only remains are its eyes.
- Dead Little Sister: Sand's father.
- Death by Cameo: Frank Miller. Again!
- Death By Origin Story: The Spirit.
- Dirty Old Man: Frank Miller
- The Ditz: Ethos, Pathos, Logos, Dialos, Thermos, Huevos, Rancheros, Tacos, Matzos, Fatsos, Nervos, Dildos, etc...
- Thankfully the actor playing the clones is only credited as being "Athos, Etc." in the end titles.
- Doing It for the Art: Frank Miller lavished love and ham on every single frame. Samuel L. Jackson in particular seems having the most fun with it.
- The Dragon: Silken Floss.
- The End - or Is It?: Silken Floss, along with Adios and Amigos, escapes into the fog with The Octopus's finger.
- Fan Service: It's a Frank Miller film with Scarlett Johansson, Eva Mendes, Paz Vega, and Jaime King. You work it out.
- Fate Worse Than Death:
- The Octopus is not dead. He's just spread all over the alley. Think about it.
- It's implied that he'll recover from the finger that Silken Floss put in her Victoria's Secret Compartment.
- Female Gaze: Say what you want, this movie is at least fair and balanced in its Fan Service.
- Femme Fatale: Damn near every female character, most notably: Sand Saref, Silken Floss and Plaster of Paris.
- Foot Focus: There's a rather lengthy focus on The Spirit and Plaster of Paris running through the snow in their bare feet.
- Friendly Enemy: Oddly enough, The Octopus shows shades of this during his first fight with The Spirit.
- From a Single Cell: Both The Spirit and The Octopus already have this, but The Octopus strives for Complete Immortality.
- Funny Background Event: On The Octopus' "butcher's chart" of The Spirit, there are dotted lines going around his mask and tie.
- Also, Morgenstern's facial expressions when The Spirit is talking to the commissioner.
- The Grim Reaper: Lorelei Rox.
- Groin Attack:
- The Octopus on The Spirit. With a 9 foot lug wrench. Ow.
- It'll heal.
- Half the Man He Used To Be: Mangos is sliced in half by the Octopus, who is currently dressed as a samurai.
- Handsome Lech: The Spirit is portrayed as a total skirt-chaser, when he was more of a Celibate Hero in the comics. More to the point, he would appear embarrassed and chagrined by the advances of Femme Fatales.
- Hammerspace: The Octopus' guns in the final shootout. The first six might have possibly be hidden inside his coat, but...
"I'm the Octopus! I've got... [pulls out two quadruple-barrelled shotguns from behind his back]] ...I've got eight of everything!"
- Healing Factor: The Spirit is given one of these in his Backstory, rather than just make him a Badass Normal.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Retroactively. Officer Morgenstern is played by Stana Katic, currently Detective Kate Beckett on Castle.
- As Chief Dolan said she would, she made Detective in no time.
- Hurricane of Puns: The Octopus seems to have a very Mr. Freeze-esque way to talk about eggs.
- Hypocrisy- just before the climax, Sand and the Octopus are planning on exchanging their respective MacGuffins. Sand tells her latest cohort to blow the Octopus' head off the moment the transaction is complete. But the moment she arrives, she lectures Silken Floss about how the Octopus can't be trusted and will undoubtedly betray her (despite it never having been so much as hinted that either one is unsatisfied with the other).
- Impossibly Cool Weapon:
- With just a hint of BFG.
Dolan: Is every goddamn woman in this goddamn hellhole out of her goddamn mind?
- Incoming Ham:
- In the Style Of:
- Karma Houdini: Sand Saref.
- Kick the Dog: The Octopus, in a scene oddly reminiscent of the scene with the shoe in Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
- Kiss of Death: Quite literally.
- Large Ham: They are indeed ordered in large quantities, and Samuel L. Jackson delivers with customary gusto. The green screen will never be the same again.
- Also, rookie cop Morganstern insists on SHOUTING EVERYTHING SHE SAYS FOR NO APPARENT REASON.
- Love Triangle:
- The Spirit is in one of these with Ellen Dolan and Sand Saref, and every other woman in the movie.
- And death incarnate. And the CITY.
- Let's re-emphasize: THE ANGEL OF DEATH IS IN LOVE WITH THE SPIRIT!
- Mad Scientist AND Mad Doctor: The Octopus
- Male Gaze: The film shamelessly indulges in this, although, given that the director is Frank Miller, this isn't particularly surprising.
- Married to the Job: Pretty much everyone, as Ellen points out to the Commissioner.
- Meganekko: "Silken Floss is the most beautiful woman in the world. And she will remain so as long as she never takes those fucking things off."
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: If you are a female character, it doesn't matter whether you are good or bad - you'll survive the film (and get away scot free if evil). Male side characters, on the other hand, are totally fair game.
- My Name Is Not Durwood:
- "Heracles? I always thought it was pronounced Hercules!"
- This line hangs a lampshade on the fact that the Romanized version of the name (Hercules) has generally replaced the original Greek (Heracles) in popular culture.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: the Spirit's brand new super healing powers, not present in the comics.
- Not So Different:
Spirit: (to The Octopus) Why do you KEEP saying that?!
- Off with His Head: Liebowitz is decapitated by the Octopus.
- Pimp Duds: The Octopus's last outfit.
- Public Domain Artifact: The Golden Fleece.
- Punch Clock Villain: Silken Floss claims she isn't evil, she's just there to pay for college...
- Purely Aesthetic Era: The film looks very noir. If it weren't for the cell phones and laptops, you could easily mistake it for taking place somewhere in the first half or the middle of the 20th century.
- Psychopathic Manchild: The Octopus has DEFINITE shades of this. See the death of Muffin for a perfect example.
- Redshirt Army: The Octopus' cloned henchmen.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- The fact that the Octopus is black (and a tad insane) is main reason he was able to Put On the Reich without looking like a giant asshole. Though none of his outfits really make sense.
- Three of his outfits (Kabuki, Nazi, Russian pimp) reflect America's past enemies.
- Rise From Your Grave: The Spirit does this one in a Flash Back showing his origin.
- Running Gag:
- The Octopus and Silken Floss wear different (and ridiculous) costumes every time we see them, most memorably the previously mentioned...uh, military wear.
- And The Octopus's apparent egg fetish...
- The Spirit would like to remind you that he's "NOT ON DRUGS!!"
- Scary Black Man: Because he's BAD!!!
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers: What The Octopus plans on doing once he gets his MacGuffin.
The Octopus: When my buddies here find Sand Saref, I won't need profits, I'll have the blood. Then, if I want something, I'll just take it! That's what gods do!
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Both The Octopus and The Spirit.
- Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness:
- Starts pretty serious but, then, it becomes downright silly.
- Then again the comics the movie was based on slide all over the scale too.
- Spam Attack:
The Octopus: There's shot to hell, there's shot to hell, and there's just plain ridiculous...
- Stripped to the Bone
- Surrounded by Idiots:
- The Octopus can clone expendable henchmen, but can't make them smart.
- Well, he tried to make a smart clone. But the results were just... plain damn weird.
- Theme Naming:
- The Octopus' henchmen's names, Ethos, Pathos, Logos, etc. Towards the end, it starts getting weird (the last two are Adios and Amigos).
- Particularly since Huevos was standing next to Rancheros.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Because The Octopus and The Spirit are immortal.
- This Is Gonna Suck:
- Toilet Humor: The Octopus knows that toilets are always funny. So he picks one up and smacks The Spirit with it.
- Too Dumb to Live: The Spirit goes into this, but the Octopus’s henchmen take the cake, considering how one fails to notice he is getting a You Have Failed Me.
The Octopus: “Where is the blood? There was supposed to be a vase of blood.
- Twinkle Smile: And wash your teeth...
- Victoria's Secret Compartment:
- Silken Floss at the end.
- You've never read "Life Below", have you?
- What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: The Octopus beats the Spirit with the severed head of Frank Miller.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: The Spirit hopes that he can die...someday...